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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Feb. 22, 2024

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Columbia River baseball rolling into spring break

Chieftains bats stay hot in 12-5 win over Hockinson

By , Columbian Sports Editor

The Columbia River baseball team won’t need a spring break trip to Arizona for its bats to warm up.

The Chieftains are already hitting at a hot clip.

Columbia River had 11 hits Friday in a 12-5 win over Hockinson. In three 2A Greater St. Helens League games, the Chieftains have scored 29 runs on 30 hits.

At 5-1 overall and 3-0 in league play, the Chieftains are ready to take a swing down south.

Up next is a five-day trip to Arizona, where the team will play four games at a tournament in the Phoenix area. The Chieftains also plan on taking in an Arizona Diamondbacks game.

It figures to be five days in baseball paradise.

“It really gets us to be able to focus not only on the games that are happening, but each other as teammates and friends,” senior outfielder Parker McNeil said. “We’re all going to be living together for the next five days and playing baseball constantly. I feel like that’s huge for us. It’s going to build our confidence going into the back half of the season.”

There’s another reason Columbia River is running hot, and it has nothing to do with the weather.

Last season, the Chieftains missed the state playoffs for the first time in six years. Eleven seniors on this year’s team have chips on their shoulders, determined not to let that happen again.

“I feel like last year we kind of disappointed ourselves with how we were playing and how our season ended,” McNeil said. “We’re definitely trying to improve on that and go a lot farther than we have before.”

Friday, Columbia River got its leadoff hitters on in five of six innings.

That put Hockinson’s pitchers and defense in constant high-pressure situations. Only four batters struck out as the Chieftains put the ball in play 27 times and drew six walks.

“That’s the key for us,” River coach Stephen Donohue said. “If we can get leadoff guys on, we can bunt and do some of the things we like to do.” “If we get a runner on, there’s a pretty good chance of them scoring,” senior Derek Mettler said.

Even after Hockinson took a 4-0 lead in the top of the second, it wasn’t long before Columbia River turned the tables.

River scored four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-4 lead. Freshman Sam Boyle got the inning rolling with an RBI double. Sophomore Nick Alder followed with a two-RBI single.

Seven of nine hitters in River’s lineup had base hits Friday. Alder went 3 for 3 while McNeil and Sawyer Parkin each had two hits.

Now, the Chieftains are looking forward to a week of sun, fun and baseball.

Asked what he’s looking forward to most, Mettler let the trip’s itinerary do the talking.

“I don’t know, what can I say,” he said. “I guess, everything.”